Hi friends

I think I have a not-so-common problem for ESL with my language skills. I was born and bred German but live in the States.

My English is what most would perceive as pretty fluent. I work here and communicate daily, but at home we keep the German up for our kids, they would lose it too quickly. My kids are high school students.

Unfortunately my English still shows typical German patterns. It's not the pronounciation I worry about, as *** accents are most welcome. It's simply that native speakers can still detect some mistakes in my writing. For those who know Germans they even can detect that I am German by my writing. In speaking it's excusable, but not in writing.

Of course, nobody would correct or help me. They just say they have an inkling. Sometimes it's so subtle that they only know something was odd not wrong, just a little off. or they are just polite Emotion: big smile

That makes it difficult. I am not talking about the common mistakes, it's far more subtle and I have no idea how to tackle the issue. Even taking the typical ESL course won't help as I'm far too advanced for most or even all what is out in my area.

Anybody have an idea or resource?

Thanks in advance
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Hello, Germlishspeaker,
I can understand your problem... German and English are "germanische" languages, but the sentence constructions are different. You must try to avoid putting the verbs at the end of the sentences!
My best advice would be to read comics, and/or to watch cartoons, and listen to them, of course. That's everyday language, even street language, and may be helpful to you? I'm sure you KNOW the grammar and all, all you need is some practice in "relaxed" language?
Hope I'm helping...
I appreciate your input. Thing is, well, I live in the States, I am a resident, work and watch tv, read tons of books... do roleplay, lots of opportunity and exposure.

I don't place verbs at the end of a sentence.
Do I know my grammar? Well, I'd say most of it.

Like I said, something more subtle, less obvious. What is it?

Anything visible in my two posts?
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Nothing visible to MY eyes!
Maybe it's the way of thinking? I'm a French speaking Belgian, and I've learned both German & English at the University. I DO know you don't think the same in German as in English.
Why not make your "difference" an asset? It might look exotic...
Otherwise, I'm afraid there's only the rap lyrics... ?

Yeah, I know what you're saying. I've been told my accent, both spoken and written, sounded "sexy", whatever it means...

Of course, there are differences in the way of thinking. The perception of time is one example, the use of prepositions another.

I am afraid the only way for an advanced speaker to excel is to hope for the best. Unless you haven't got a friend (native speaker) who's willing to give a hand by telling you right when the mistake happened.

Easier said than done.
I have the same kind of "problem" here: you see I'm Belgian but I live in France. I'm French-speaking anyway, but sometimes I can feel a little "distortion"(?) when I talk, mainly in the choice of words, not accent, because I don't have a Belgian accent.
But well, I like my difference!
But if you read a lot of modern novels, and watch a lot of modern films, you should get over it rather quickly?
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you would hope so... lol maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist.

But I'll stick to my accent, that's for sure
I am tackling the same problem - not giving up yet. I think that maybe the mere consumption of English material is not enough and I am thinking about trying a more proactive approach that includes writing. E.g.: Copy chapters of a well-written book, try and write extracts of what people say on the radio/audiobooks (both handwriting!)...
I just think that spoken words are perceived very differently than written ones; in fact I did a bit of research where I was supposed to transcribe things and when I re-checked I noticed that I always got the content right but not a single time did I actually get all the words right (and that was in German...)

So: What do you think? Good idea?
You wanted to know what kind of mistakes you've made in your posts. From what I've been able to see, you've made very few...in fact there's really only one that strikes me as grammatically incorrect:

taking the typical ESL course won't help as I'm far too advanced for most or even all what is out in my area.
I would change that sentence to: "for most or even all the ones that are in my area". Of course I'm not an English teacher so I can't really explain why it should be that way...it just sounds better. There are also three other sentences I have (as you called it) an "inkling" about:
1. Personally, I would change the order of the following phrase to: "keep up the German".

at home we keep the German up for our kids
A better way to say this, though, would probably be: "we speak German to keep the language alive for our kids", or "we speak German so our kids won't lose touch with their native language".

2. Here again I'd change the order to "they can even detect":

For those who know Germans they even can detect that I am German by my writing.
But, to tell the truth, I'd begin that sentence differently, altogether: "Those who know Germans can even detect..." The "For" at the beginning is not necessary and it sounds a little strange.

3. Here I would change the tense of the verb "to be". In the first part of the sentence you're using the present tense ("it's", "know") so it would be more natural to use the present tense in the second part as well: "they only know something is wrong".

Sometimes it's so subtle that they only know something was odd not wrong
Again, as you've said these are not grammatically incorrect, just a little "odd" Other than that, the rest is exceptionally well-written. Your English is amazing for a non-native! As for perfecting it, I would only advise reading more American literature (ask your kids, they'll probably be able to recommend some interesting pieces ;D)

Hope this helped and good luck,

Isabella H.
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